Quiz Quiz Bang Bang

mighty fine trivia by James Callan

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Q: Biz Markie and Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh make regular appearances on what TV show, currently airing on Nick Jr.?

Theme: Johnny Two Times. Each answer repeats a word or phrase.

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Q: Since 1966, what invention has given guitarists the power to imitate a muted trumpet?

Theme: Johnny Two Times. The answer repeats a word or phrase.

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Q: If you’re at In-N-Out and want two patties and two slices of cheese on a freshly baked bun, what should you order?

Theme: Johnny Two Times. The answer repeats a word or phrase.

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Quiz: Name the novel from Amazon’s key phrases

Can you name the novel from the key phrases identified by Amazon?

1) tighter bomb pattern, more combat missions, stupid mouth, Henry Fonda, and Lieutenant Scheisskopf
2) feminist funeral, ball turret gunner, wrestling practice, Under Toad, and sexual suspect
3) three sénéchaux, seeded womb, corporal mortification, sacred feminine, and Opus Dei
4) grain barges, cell leader, laser drills, new catapult, and Free Luna
5) invisible doctors, banana company, insomnia plague, story about the capon, and siesta time
6) bun compartment, nucular bum, flannel nightshirt, hunting cap, and Patrolman Mancuso
7) keystream letters, Bletchley Park, making license plates, Bobby Shaftoe, and substitution alphabet
8) tennis academy, professional conversationalist, Hal Incandenza, new bong, and howling fantods
9) accused man, fishing gaff, strawberry land, Kabuo Miyamoto, and Island County
10) Las Vegas, rundown bootheels, happy crappy, Captain Trips, and dig your man

(NOTE: I first wrote this in 2008, and Amazon’s redone their keywords since then. Contemporary accuracy is not guaranteed.)

Ken Jennings in an interview with Grant Barrett on a minicast from A Way With Words:

People think trivia questions must come automatically from a book or a computer. It’s a very tight and controlled art form. It’s like writing haiku or a villanelle or something. It’s this very tight, constrained format that really requires a lot more work than people suspect to get the trivia to work right.

I’ve said that trivia questions land halfway between haiku and jokes on the writing spectrum.

What classic character made his first appearance in the children’s book Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys?

I’m just one click away from an answer …

What nickname, popularized by Jack London, has been given to boxers including Jim Jeffries, Jess Willard, Gerry Cooney, and Tommy Morrison?

I’d be much happier if I had an answer.

What 2000 sociology bestseller claims that “word-of-mouth epidemics” are spread by three kinds of people: mavens, connectors, and salesmen?

Answer, answer, who’s got the answer?

When it was introduced in 1990, it was called the Power Drencher. What’s it called now?

I’m in the mood for an answer.

Will Wright’s Five Second Rule

I was reading Luke Wroblewski’s blog for my day job and came across this idea:

Will Wright, the creator of the Sims & Spore, has a belief that games should allow people to succeed within the first five seconds.

What does this mean for writing trivia? Quizzes and quiz rounds should start with their easiest question and get harder as they go. Given Wright’s “success in the first five seconds” thought, though, inspires me to go further:

The first question of the quiz is one that everyone should get right, right away. Asked, answered, minor victory achieved.

(The trick: making that question both easy and interesting.)

(Also: Anyone have a straight-from-the-source cite for that Wright quote? Let me know.)

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